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Sziget reveals first NFT collection

Hungary’s Sziget Festival has unveiled its first NFT collection, minting its first set of artworks as well as creating the Sziget Festival NFT Club.

During the 2022 event, festival-goers were able to access free NFT versions of key images from previous years, becoming the first SzigetVibes NFT Club members in the process.

Now, in partnership with Nimi Collectibles Inc, the festival has formally announced its entrance into the NFT world. Under the motive ‘Collect memories, not things’ SzigetVibes NFTs allow fans to collect the best moments from the 2022 event experience in the form of original artworks and photographs created during the festival, and with a collaboration with artist Tim King.

For a limited period of time, fans can register online and receive a free NFT as a welcome gift.

The first collection of Sziget NFTs will be dropped via the SzigetVibes website in the autumn

The first collection of Sziget NFTs will be dropped via the SzigetVibes website in the autumn, entitling owners to special benefits such as exclusive festival discounts, special VIP passes and backstage tours.

Held from 10-15 August in Budapest, the latest edition of the 80,000-cap festival boasted a star-studded bill headlined by Arctic Monkeys, Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris, Justin Bieber, Kings of Leon and Tame Impala. Organisers say a combined 450,000 people attended across the six days of the event.

Sziget is not the first festival to join the non-fungible token revolution, with Coachella and Governor’s Ball in the US, and Serbia’s Exit Festival among those to previously launch their own line of NFTs.


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AEG Presents partners with NFT platform Autograph

AEG Presents has announced a multi-year partnership with Web3 firm Autograph, an NFT (non-fungible token) platform co-founded by NFL legend Tom Brady.

The link-up will officially launch at this month’s BUKU Music + Art Project in New Orleans, which will feature acts including Tame Impala, Tyler, The Creator, Alison Wonderland, Baby Keem and Glass Animals from 25-26 March.

Variety reports the BUKU alliance will include a graffiti artist auction featuring eight artists’ works as NFTs. Attendees will also be offered the chance to mint their own NFT festival posters onsite.

“This partnership offers our festival-goers a new, innovative format to commemorate their experiences and create custom NFT collections,” says AEG Global Partnerships MD Andrew Klein. “There is such excitement about BUKU’s return. Autograph will help amplify that special feeling of the festival to a broader community and drive a deeper engagement with the audience.”

“Festival culture creates an opportunity to build and create communities at scale using Web3”

Autograph will also work on similar activations for AEG Presents brands such as Electric Forest, Hangout Music Festival and Firefly.

“Festival culture creates an opportunity to build and curate communities at scale using Web3,” adds Autograph CEO Dillon Rosenblatt. “Our goal is to create an experience that lives digitally and physically to enhance the festival attendees’ overall experience. We are thrilled to kick-off our partnership with AEG Presents through an interactive experience at BUKU defined by celebrating the connection between art and technology.”

AEG’s Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival recently auctioned 10 lifetime passes to the event as part of a series of NFTs, which saw 10 Coachella lifetime passes sold for a combined $1.5 million (€1.3m).


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Modern Sky plans virtual version of China’s biggest festival

Chinese powerhouse Modern Sky Entertainment is planning to launch a virtual edition of its Strawberry Music Festival.

Launched in 2010, the annual event takes place across cities in China each spring. The Beijing edition is the largest music festival in the country.

The digital version of the festival will feature digital versions of real-life artists, as well as wholly virtual artists from Modern Sky’s new virtual artist label No Problem.

Virtual idols have been thriving in China over the years, with its market value reaching 3.46 billion yuan (US$540 million) in 2020, up 70.3% from the previous year, according to the consultancy group iiMedia. The metaverse hype was expected to push its market value to nearly 107.49 bn yuan ($16.8 bn) in 2021.

Modern Sky revealed that developing virtual artists will be a key part of its strategy for 2022 along with organising virtual music festivals and selling original digital works in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

Thc company, launched in 1997, already comprises a number of sub-labels, covering music publishing, artist management, live music, visual and product design, retail and performance venues, recording and production, media, design hotels and other sectors.

Tencent Music last month launched TMELAND – dubbed ‘China’s first interactive virtual music festival’

Modern Sky isn’t the only Chinese entertainment conglomerate making moves in the music metaverse. Tencent Music last month launched TMELAND – dubbed ‘China’s first interactive virtual music festival’.

The Chinese tech giant is also planning to acquire gaming smartphone manufacturer Black Shark in a move that could help the company build its own metaverse.

The company already owns a stake in video game company Epic Games – the maker of Fortnite which has hosted virtual concerts from the likes of  Travis ScottAriana GrandeMarshmello, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin.

The company also entered into a strategic partnership with Roblox, in May 2019, in which Tencent holds a 49% stake. Last year, Tencent filed for two Metaverse-related trademarks.

Modern Sky and Tencent follow in the footsteps of Decentraland and Roblox which have helped pave the way for festivals in the metaverse.

Virtual blockchain-based world Decentraland hosted the ‘world’s first multi-day festival in the metaverse’ last October.

In that same month, Roblox and event promoter Insomniac, meanwhile, brought one of the largest electronic music festivals in the world – Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) – to the metaverse.


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OneRepublic ‘first major US act to accept Bitcoin for gig’

OneRepublic has become the first major-label US act to accept the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as full payment for a concert, according to the band’s reps.

The payment was for an intimate acoustic show at historical venue, Haydn Hall, outside of Vienna, Austria, on 16 November.

The Grammy award-winning band used peer-to-peer Bitcoin payment app, Strike, to accept payment for the gig, which is said to have sold out in a matter of minutes.

“My band and I are so happy to be a part of something that we believe is, without question, the future of how payments are transacted for unlimited amounts of assets, performances, services, purchases, music, etc. around the world,” says OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder, whose interest in the NFT space is well documented.

“Without question, [this is] the future of how payments are transacted for unlimited amounts of assets around the world”

“Whether it’s artists using NFTs to fund albums with their fans or bands being paid for concerts in crypto, music & tech go hand in hand. With that in mind, it only made sense for us to take the next logical step. I also have an upcoming private concert in December I’m planning on taking Bitcoin for.”

The live music industry is increasingly adopting cryptocurrency for varying purposes. Recently, it was announced that AEG’s Staples Center in Los Angeles is to be renamed the Crypto.com Arena as part of a new 20-year naming rights deal.

Elsewhere, Universal Music Group has formed an ‘NFT supergroup’ made entirely out of digital apes, which will perform across and participate in video games, virtual-reality apps and the metaverse.

Live Nation is also capitalising on the trend by collaborating with artists to launch digital collectable NFT ticket stubs.

Kings of Leon, Grimes, Shawn Mendes, Steve Aoki, Quavo, Lil Baby, 2 Chainz, Jack Harlow, Tory Lanez, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, 3lau, Ozuna are among the artists who have released collections of NFTs.


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Universal Music Group forms ‘NFT supergroup’

Universal Music Group (UMG) is capitalising on two of the biggest trends of the last year – NFTs and the metaverse – with the formation of a new ‘NFT Supergroup’.

The multinational music cooperation is collaborating with collector Jimmy McNelis to convert four of his ape NFTs into a band called Kingship.

McNelis, an early buyer of Ethereum, acquired hundreds of ape NFTs from the creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, which gave anyone who bought one of the apes full commercial rights to use the image.

McNelis was later approached by Universal’s 10:22PM record label, a “next-gen Web3 label” which was set up by former Sony exec Celine Joshua.

Joshua pitched him on the idea of creating a new group and picked four characters that she thought would work as a band before signing the ‘metaverse group’ to the label.

10:22PM is now working with a team of crypto artists and animators to turn the two-dimensional apes into three-dimensional beings.

One of the band’s members, the golden ape, is currently valued at over $300,000 USD

One of the band’s members, the golden ape, is currently valued at over $300,000 USD. McNelis has a collection that he estimates is worth more than $100 million.

The company will record music for Kingship that it releases on streaming services and the band will perform and participate in video games, virtual-reality applications and across the constellation of digital experiences known as the metaverse.

Joshua and her team are going to create these characters stories’ from scratch. They will put together a marketing campaign to introduce the apes to potential fans, explain how they met and describe who they are. “It’s just like just like the way we introduce new artists to the world,” she told Bloomberg.

Kingship is just one of the ape-themed virtual bands to follow in the footsteps of Gorillaz, an English virtual band created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett.

US music producer Timbaland is also cashing in on the trend, starting new company Ape-In Productions that will also use Bored Ape Yacht Club characters to form a music group.

Timbaland’s group, named TheZoo, features six Bored Ape characters – such as Lincoln Aperaham and Safari Ferrari – and will release their first song ‘ApeSh!t’ on Wednesday, according to Variety.


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Kings of Leon to send an NFT into space

American rock band Kings of Leon will become the first act to send an NFT (non-fungible token) into space.

The band are teaming up with the Elon Musk-founded SpaceX, which is preparing to send the all-civilian Inspiration4 crew on a three-day orbit.

The band’s NFT – a new, live recording of their track ‘Time in Disguise’ – will be played onboard via an iPhone on 15 September.

The offering is up for auction now, with proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Bidding for the NFT starts at US$50,000, and the winner will receive both the NFT itself and the iPhone that gets sent up

Bidding for starts at US$50,000, and the winner will receive both the NFT itself and the iPhone that gets sent up to space.

The NFT is part of a wider auction – which includes limited edition space merchandise – to help raise $200 million for the hospital.

“It means so much to us to be a part of this historic moment,” Kings of Leon told People. “When we wrote and recorded ‘Time in Disguise’ in the studio, we always thought it had a spacy feel to it and then the visuals from our live show have that vibe, as well.”

“To now have that song and those images be a part of something as historic as this is really cool, and having it raise money for a cause we’ve always cared so much about, makes it even better,” the band adds.

Earlier this year, Kings of Leon generated more than $2 million from a collection of non-fungible tokens, titled ‘NFT Yourself’.


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Yourticketprovider moves into NFT ticketing

Yourticketprovider, one of the Netherlands’ leading ticketing platforms, will integrate a new NFT (non-fungible token) ticketing product called Digital Twin.

Launched by blockchain ticketing innovator, GET Protocol, the product will allow Yourticketprovider to create an NFT copy of every ticket issued without extensive integration or interruption to their usual business.

“Thanks to this unique integration with the GET Protocol we will help organisers to enter, explore and monetise the many opportunities of this new online space using NFTs, for example, a more secure secondary market, pre-funding events and selling digital merchandise,” says Bart Peute, CEO of Yourticketprovider.

“Also to a visitor a ticket is much more than a barcode and we now support the full visitor journey and experience offline and online.”

Maarten Bloemers, CEO of GET Protocol, added: ‘We are thrilled with this move, as we are looking to develop the NFT ticketing use case as widely and thoroughly as possible.

“YTP will help organisers to enter, explore and monetise the many opportunities of this new online space using NFTs”

“In Yourticketprovider we have a great initial partner for the Digital Twin product, showing that they are open to innovation. That’s a mindset we are hoping to come across more and more, as we show the world what a ticket is capable of.”

Founded in 2012, Yourticketprovider currently sells around 2 million tickets per year. The CM.com-backed platform sells tickets for major festival organisers such as Loveland events, the Zoo events and Kwaku Summer festivals.

Yourticketprovider is the first platform to integrate with Digital Twin, which was designed for existing ticketing companies who want to break into the NFT ticketing space.

GET Protocol has been issuing and optimising blockchain-registered tickets since 2016, helping to eliminate scalping, the monetisation of the secondary market and the possibilities of using tickets as digital collectables.

Read more about the possibilities of NFT ticketing here.

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NFTs: The future of ticketing?

Art auctions, album launches, video clips, gaming characters and even historic tweets have helped to put the concept of NFTs on the map, with hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands already this year for all manner of collectible digital assets.

The rush to become a part of this lucrative 21st-century phenomena has seen a raft of start-up enterprises amassing impressive sums in funding from eager investors, while the publicity that art auctions in particular have enjoyed has helped NFTs become one of the most searched-for terms on Google.

As a result, when it comes to leveraging the power of NFTs for ticketing, there is an ever-increasing pool of hopefuls trying to entice artists, venues, event organisers and established ticket operators to put their faith in the blockchain-based technology.

The multinational ticketing giants are cautious. Ticketmaster’s EVP of enterprise and revenue, Brendan Lynch, sums up their view on the use of blockchain-based operations: “Ticketmaster jumped into blockchain early, acquiring Upgraded back in 2018 and furthering our focus in the space through other investments and development.

“Blockchain ticketing is still in experimental stages and not yet scalable for broad ticketing delivery but is useful for specific low-volume situations. Right now, digital ticketing offers the same level of tokenisation, terms and security with way more scale – and since less than 10% of tickets get resold, a traditional blockchain still isn’t worthwhile for large onsales. But our cryptographers and engineers will continue to explore blockchain ticketing delivery to see where it can differentiate and add value in the future.”

However, the excitement among those who are helping to develop the NFT ticketing market is palpable and as the myriad applications and transparency that the blockchain can offer become more apparent, investment is flooding in to drive that development – including from the likes of Ticketmaster.

One company that has been working with blockchain for the last five years is Netherlands-based GET Protocol, which is also home to in-house ticketing operation GUTS Tickets. “It’s a little bit derogatory to say, but GUTS is sort of our ticket store asset to show what GET Protocol can do,” explains Olivier Biggs, the company’s head of marketing. “All of our tickets are NFTs and in our international expansion plans we are offering interested parties a white-label solution so that they receive the infrastructure of GUTS and can slap on their own logo and label.”

Championing the use of NFT ticketing, Biggs continues, “One of the big benefits is that you can really establish and sustain a connection from the artist or event organiser to the actual fan who shows up at the event. NFT ticketing also offers collectible opportunities, so whereas in the past you would put your event ticket stub on your fridge as a reminder, you can do this digitally by holding your ticket in your online wallet. This can include custom artwork from the artist or contain information about the show or whatever.”

Carolin Wend, co-founder and chief operating officer of NFT specialist Mintbase, is also bullish about its applications in ticketing. “I have a radical opinion on ticketing,” she tells IQ. “I used to work in ticketing for a company so I know how the business works, but in my opinion there is no innovation happening in the [big] platforms at all – it’s the same thing for the last ten or 20 years: you have a QR code, you go to a festival and someone scans it and you go in. Done. So it’s a one-time, single-use case for tickets – that QR code is used just once, for one purpose.

“With NFT tickets, it doesn’t need to be a QR code – your ticket could be a song or a video that is pegged to your smart contract. That’s much more dynamic as a format, but also, you keep it forever – the NFT is an asset that you own. And that is key. With NFT ticketing you can trade it wherever you want, you can gift it to a friend… this is not happening in the current ticketing system because although lots of [companies] have personalised tickets, you don’t really own the ticket because if you look at the definition of ownership it’s something that can be owned and controlled by myself. But if you look at traditional tickets, it’s just a QR code and I don’t really own it.

“With NFT tickets, I can trade it, but I can also verify that it is a real ticket, and I can control something in a very uncontrolled environment – the resale market.”

“With NFT tickets, I can trade it, but I can also verify that it is a real ticket, and I can control something in a very uncontrolled environment – the resale market”

Using cutting-edge technology to disrupt the ticketing business brings with it a different operations model, but intrinsically the two worlds are not that different.

“In the world of blockchain, you need verification of wallets, so what we do is, instead of it being a hexadecimal, we can verify that Josh Katz and Gordon Masson are friends. So, we can independently buy tickets to a show, but make sure we’re sitting next to each other because we’re verified as friends,” explains Katz, founder and CEO of New York-based YellowHeart, in which Live Nation/Ticketmaster was an early investor.

“YellowHeart also has a proprietary moving UPC barcode, which can be set to change from 1-5 seconds so that it cannot be screenshot. We could not have done this without blockchain,” says Katz. “The barcode rotates without connectivity, so you don’t need 5G or Wi-Fi. Since it’s on blockchain, it rotates based on the user’s private key on their device, so this would work for Burning Man or anything else that doesn’t have good connectivity.”

GET Protocol’s Biggs notes, “With the tickets being tied to a smartphone, we did not anticipate how big a benefit that would be. But that allows you to know, 100% of the time, who has the ticket, rather than who originally paid for it. The benefits are amazing – you can see who has already shown up to the event and who is running late. We had an event where there was a public transport outage and half of the audience was running late, but the artist was able to send those people specifically a message saying don’t worry, we know you are on the way and we won’t start until you get here.

“So you know exactly who you are talking to and you don’t have to fight social media algorithms and hope that you somehow reach the right people.”

“We had an event where half the audience was running late, but the artist was able to send those people a message saying don’t worry, we won’t start until you get here”

While most music fans have a stash of ticket stubs as souvenirs for shows they have attended, those involved in NFT ticketing believe that the collectability element will result in tickets being traded, post-event, between fans.

“We have a white-label integrator of the protocol in South Korea, but because we’re sober Dutch people we thought that the collectible thing might be a bit gimmicky and we had doubts about how many people would use it,” admits Biggs. “But in the land of K-pop they know about fandom and the level of involvement that real fans can have; any type of reward or interaction between a fan and the artist is priceless.”

Katz is all in on the collectability angle. Demonstrating the use of artist video content as the NFT ticket, Katz claims such dynamic technology is far more engaging for fans, and underlines the collectible element.

“Essentially, if you go to see a show and you’re one of ten people in the audience to get a special NFT ticket, then that makes those tickets hugely collectible after the show. Plus it’s proof of attendance that you saw your favourite acts play at some tiny venue in, let’s say, London,” says Katz.

“The scarcity in the nature of tickets is a business – there are only so many front row seats, for instance.” Programming those tickets with audio or visual add-ons would only enhance their rarity. “These tickets will be worth more after the show than they were before,” claims Katz. “The value add of this technology is massive.”

“Any type of reward or interaction between a fan and the artist is priceless”

Eliminating scalpers
One of the much-touted advantages that NFT ticketing offers is its ability to clamp down on secondary ticketing profiteers. That aspect was one of the driving forces behind the launch of YellowHeart.

“YellowHeart comes from the fans and was built for fans: its goal is to create frictionless commerce between the fans and the artists,” explains Katz.

“I’m religious about the band Phish – I go to every concert. I’m also a huge Yankees fan, but I’m constantly getting ripped off. Spending [US]$1,000 to take my family to a baseball game was driving me insane. And as a Phish fan, I travel with a large group of fans, some of whom are doctors and lawyers and have well-paid jobs, but tickets are still an issue. I can travel with 20 people but ten do not have a ticket because they are on StubHub for $900when the face value is $80.”

Determined to come up with something that could disrupt that status quo, Katz turned to the blockchain and its ability to make transactions transparent, as well as allowing fans to ensure what they are paying for is genuine. “We have full transactional details of every ticket,” says Katz. “11.5% of tickets that get sold through the secondary market are fraudulent. But using the ticket history, or blockchain ledger, fans can see that their ticket was minted by Ticketmaster, for instance, then who it was first sold to and for how much, so they can judge if they’re being ripped off. So NFT ticketing gives the fans authentication and transparency around tickets.”

That’s a selling point also highlighted by Liam Boyd, CEO of music at Bondly, who comments, “NFT tickets are on the open blockchain, which means anyone can see how they are transferred at any time. This in turn allows greater transparency as well as enhanced security resulting in peace of mind for all parties involved. You can also send the holder updates and info through sending additional NFTs.”

It’s that final point that sets NFTs apart.

“NFT tickets are on the open blockchain, which means anyone can see how they are transferred at any time. This allows greater transparency”

Fan communication
While NFT ticketing requires the audience to, by and large, all be in possession of smartphones, there are procedures to allow others into venues. But more on that later.

For those who are in possession of 21st-century equipment, assuming the ticket holder has their NFT ticket stored in a digital wallet on their mobile device, the possibilities for communication with them are endless.

“It allows the artist to know exactly who attended their concert, and it could also lead to artists rewarding super fans by sending them exclusive content or inviting them for a meet-and-greet and stuff like that,” notes Biggs.

Katz says, “Right before the show you can send people a message telling them that you’re going on stage in 20 minutes – you send that through the ticket. Chainsmokers are early partners in the company and one of the things we’ve talked about with them is the ability to send messages out to, say, 20 fans [letting them know] they’re looking forward to rocking out with them next week. That’s where we’re heading with all of this.”

So, what about those people who don’t own smartphones?

“We’ve been very focussed on having a product that is not just cool technologically, but that can also serve all users,” says Biggs. “In our first year, we did some pilot events with a comedian whose audience is in the older demographic and therefore might not be tech savvy. That was very viable because we wanted to make sure anybody who bought a ticket didn’t have any surprises.

“There is always a way to get someone in through customer support. Sometimes people lose their phones on their way to the concert, or they change phones or something. But given that you are already in the system and you have bought a ticket, there are ways to verify your identity at the location.”

From YellowHeart’s point of view, Katz notes, “If someone shows up without their device, they can go to the box office with a government-issued ID and our system can verify who they are, allowing them to walk in the door.”

“Right before the show you can send people a message telling them that you’re going on stage in 20 minutes – you send that through the ticket”

Rules, royalties & revenues
Another unique tool for blockchain-based ticketing is the ability for NFTs to be encoded with specific sets of rules, which can benefit both the creator of the ticket and the final user: the fan.

Bondly’s Boyd tells IQ, “We have an amazing end to end NFT tech stack, which includes NFT creation, white labelling for music artists and brands, and an NFT swap feature called BondSwap where fans could actually swap their NFT tickets with each other. We also have an incredibly talented and large creative team who really bring these NFTs to life with art, music, perks and rewards.

“Bondly’s NFT ticketing is giving artists and festivals, for example, the opportunity to expand their fans’ experience and interaction with music through unique content, rewards and more. Fans can even receive festival maps or line-up information as the ticket is a world of opportunity.”

Katz agrees. “We are able to encode any rule you think of on the ticket. And a rule can go down to a single ticket or a section of the audience – and the artwork can be made specifically for different sections, so the front-row tickets can be different from the second row, which helps to make the tickets super collectible.

“Rules such as age restrictions, uplift limits for the resale on secondary markets, which can be easily set to zero. Then there’s transferability – you have a lot of tickets that you might not want to be transferred, such as guest list, or you might allow for them to be transferred once.

“You can also set limits for the maximum number of tickets a wallet can hold, which can also help eliminate scalping. So, if you set the limit to four tickets, if they tried to buy a fifth, it would be declined.”

GET Protocol’s Biggs notes, “There are also lots more technical things that NFT ticketing can do in terms of royalties or residual revenues, where you can programme the tickets so that if they are resold on the secondary market, a certain percentage always goes back to the original artist or event organiser, or both. So without having to police it or organise a whole infrastructure for this, it’s simply programmed that you will automatically receive any residual revenues – so very low effort and very high reward.”

Indeed, Wend predicts such applications could even help some event organisers to rewrite the ways in which their businesses operate.

“What we have developed on Mintbase and the new NEAR blockchain is something we’ve called split revenues and split royalties,” she explains. “That means, when I put an NFT ticket on sale for my festival, for example, Rihanna would get 5% of every ticket sold, David Guetta gets 5% of every ticket sold, another artist gets 2%. At the moment the ticket is sold, the money gets split between the different parties. This is a completely new innovation because it means those artists are stakeholders in the event and they get paid at the ticket sale because it is a peer-to-peer system.

“It’s a new paradigm of doing ticketing because promoters can say rather than getting paid a few thousand dollars, artists could get a percentage of each ticket sale, giving the artists more incentives and motivation to push the event because they are stakeholders.”

“You can programme the tickets so that if they are resold on the secondary market, a percentage always goes back to the original artist or event organiser, or both”

Of course, one of the key selling points for anyone considering trialling NFT ticketing will be the cost of using such a system. Biggs reveals GET Protocol’s pragmatic approach when he observes, “We need to be competitive to provide an alternative to the big ticketing companies.”

Others provide greater detail. “Costs depend on which blockchain the NFT company uses, as transaction fees fluctuate all the time,” says Wend. “But minting one NFT is fractions of a cent and creating a shop for the smart contract is about $40 [€33]. So, for a 5,000-capacity gig, minting the tickets and creating a store would cost about $60-70 [€60-58]. And Mintbase takes 2.5% of every ticket sold.”

Comparing YellowHeart’s fees to that of the major ticketing outlets, Katz proclaims, “We’re 10% of the price.”

He continues, “Traditional ticketing fees can range between 12% and 47%. YellowHeart is 2.5% to 5%. And that’s only to the seller. Buyers don’t pay fees.

“We did not build YellowHeart so that the industry could make more money off the fans. They can if they use it correctly because more fans will attend events and they will want to spend more money. If they’re not being ripped off on tickets, they’ll spend more on concessions and merch and everything else. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to a show where I’ve spent $600 or $800 on tickets and I’ve said to the people I’m with, let’s go for dinner and they can’t because all of their money has gone on the tickets. That’s the truth of what goes on.

“I’m a fan and I’ve sat in the audience with other fans who have been ripped off for years, and I just knew there had to be a better way. So I built this for the fans. Hopefully, the artist will care enough to use it for their fans.”

Mintbase’s Wend adds, “Most NFT companies are on Ethereum – we are on Ethereum – but we are now on NEAR Protocol as well, so we are a multi-chain platform. The difference is that on Mintbase and the NEAR blockchain, it’s much more affordable than on Ethereum to mint and trade NFTs. So, it’s cost efficient, but it’s also climate neutral because NEAR uses a proof-of-state mechanism, and not the Ethereum proof-of-work mechanism. So that’s better for the environment.”

“I’m a fan and I’ve sat in the audience with other fans who have been ripped off for years, and I 
just knew there had to be a better way”

Future forecasts
While Ticketmaster’s Lynch may be unconvinced about the scalability of blockchain ticketing, the company is still keen to talk up its abilities to provide clients with NFT ticketing options.

“Ticketmaster can help provide any artist, team or event with a solution to have their tickets deliver special NFTs,” says Lynch. “NFTs provide immediate benefits to sports and artists by opening up new ways to engage with their biggest fans. For so long a ticket has simply equalled access to an event, but with NFTs it can be so much more – in the months between an onsale and the event a ticket can become a channel for fans to access things like exclusive content or limited edition merch, or artists and teams can carve out unique loyalty and VIP engagement opportunities to surprise and delight fans before during or after the event, we can also designate different levels of super-fan status based on attendance and other engagement to unlock rewards and dynamic fan club benefits.”

Lynch adds, “The possibilities are endless, and we are planning some really exciting things.”

Bondly’s Boyd is realistic about the prospects for the new format, but he is confident that the benefits will make NFT tickets a huge hit with fans everywhere. “At the moment, the NFT ticket will not replace the traditional ticket, but owning an NFT gives fans many benefits,” he says.

“In the short-term, I believe it will be used for intimate live events and [for] welcoming, alongside a traditional ticket, as we at Bondly are using it. In the long-term, it will become the ticket and replace traditional tickets as we know them now,” Boyd forecasts. “At Bondly we are using our place at the forefront of NFT technology to continuously innovate and find new exciting ways to make NFTs more accessible to the masses and really shorten the education journey along the way.”

Wend is equally bullish and reveals that Mintbase is currently building a hybrid NFT event for Wilde Möhre Festival, which is held across four weekends in Drebkau, Germany. “We are planning a virtual twin of the festival, but also at the event there will be an NF-Tea House where people can drink tea and create their own ecosystem around NFTs. Every artist who is performing at the physical festival will get the opportunity to sell their own NFTs – tickets, art, whatever,” she says.

She adds, “I think traditional ticketing will be replaced by NFTs because it is peer-to-peer and it’s transparent on the blockchain, meaning people cannot be lied to anymore. It’s the future, not only for ticketing, but also for many other digital markets.

“2022 will be the big year for NFT ticketing. Wilde Möhre is happening this year but that’s because it’s just 1,000 people at each edition and it’s outside, so it meets Covid rules. That makes it perfect for us to use as a case study and play around with what we can offer. Things will break because it’s a new technology, but we can take those lessons and apply them to other events. In fact, we will be presenting the concept at the Future of Festivals Conference in Berlin in November.”

Katz concurs with Wend’s NFT takeover assessment. “In the short-term, I think the incumbent ticketing giants are going to try to do this themselves and fail,” he says. “They are in such disarray trying to get concerts back that I don’t think they are going to pay attention to this. But I think that the fans are going to demand this technology once they use it.

“Pre-Covid, YellowHeart had our hands tied. We had a Live Nation/Ticketmaster relationship and there wasn’t much we were able to do outside of that. Post-Covid we’re getting calls from major teams, artists, venues, festivals, you name it, they’ve been calling us because they realise there are better ways to do ticketing and it’s a whole new world now.”

Revealing that GET Protocol is already operating in four territories – Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and South Korea – Biggs comments, “We’re in the sweet spot of having enough experience to know what we’re doing and to bring new technologies to the masses with a framework that people understand and allows them to enjoy events every day.

“We were either very lucky or very smart, as we knew that NFTs were going to enjoy a wave of publicity, but we did not quite anticipate how big it would become in the mainstream world all of a sudden. A lot of people come to the conclusion themselves that the stuff in the art world is cool, but what about ticketing?”

Biggs concludes, “For NFTs we are at the peak of the hype right now. Everyone wants to do something, whether they understand it or not, but that means it’s also going to have to deflate somewhat, which is also very healthy.

“As with the blockchain hype, a lot of people who saw cool ideas in the beginning actually had to make them work. So we’re in for a big unsexy and uninteresting period where people find utility and create it and try to cram it into a market fit and fail miserably before trying again. But hopefully they will come up with some cool things along the way that will actually benefit people.

“The interest is there and it has to be on the radars of the bigger players as well who can sense where things are going and will definitely want to be a part of it. It’s very exciting.”


Read this feature in its original format in the digital edition of IQ 99:

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NFTs: Umek to sell rights to live show as a token

Music analytics and data platform Viberate will tomorrrow be the first company to test the concept of a ‘live event NFT’ by selling the rights to a live performance as a non-fungible token.

The upcoming NFT ‘drop’ – ie the release, and subsequent auction, of the blockchain-based tokens – will start on 29 April at 8pm UK time (3pm EST) and run for 24 hours. Focusing on the work of techno DJ Umek, the drop will see buyers bid for rights one of three remixes of Umek’s 1999 hit ‘Lanicor‘, a livestreamed concert, or an in-person live performance.

Bidding for the livestream NFT begins at US$2,500, with the concert NFT starting at $5,000.

“We’re excited about NFTs and blockchain technology in general, as it really opens up new opportunities for artists and organisers to create transparent and secure bookings,” says Vasja Veber, Viberate co-founder and Umek’s manager.

“We hope to prove a concept with our NFT drop”

“The industry’s been in a sort of limbo this past year. As there are no live events, the artists try to make do by streaming their performances, but there’s no clear answer as to when and how things will return to normal – or even what ‘normal’ will mean by then.

“We hope to prove a concept with our NFT drop – any artist can make sure they’ll have a booking waiting for them once live gigs are back in the picture, and the terms of that booking are agreed upon in advance.”

If the concept proves successful, Viberate plans to provide its blockchain-based verification and token-minting services to the hundreds of thousands of artists in its database.

The NFT boom has so far seen artists offer VIP tickets, digital art and collectible albums in the format, though the Viberate event, in partnership with Blockparty, is the first to leverage the technology for booking artists.


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How Gareth Emery channelled his live show into NFTs

Gareth Emery, renowned DJ and former CEO of crypto music streaming startup Choon, is hoping to capitalise on the current NFT (non-fungible token) boom with the release of his new collection LSR/CITY.

The city-inspired collection, which drops today on Nifty Gateway, comprises five NFTs ranging from $1 to $250,000 – each of which combines an original piece of music by Emery with the intricate laser work of his live shows. 

Ahead of tonight’s drop, Emery tells IQ why he’s jumping on the NFT boom, how the new business model could democratise the music industry and what the future of music and crypto looks like.


IQ: How did your live show inform the premise of the LSR/CITY NFT collection?
My thought was: how do we take the spirit of what we do at scale – an arena show with 10,000 people – and encapsulate it in digital art. It began with the music I composed for each city [London, Tokyo, LA and Genesis] and then laser designer Photon and I went and shot actual lasers using cameras – no 3D rendering or anything – to create a laser show for each song. We then displayed it within a glass cube in a virtual environment, designed by 3D artist Ilya Tsvetkov. So it’s this kind of collision between 3D art, lasers and music.

Tell us about your pièce de résistance, LSR/CITY: The Metaverse.
It’s a one-of-one NFT, a black chrome sculpture with a laser embedded in it. So, the sculpture will play the actual laser show that is the NFT. Whoever wins that will get to come to a show of ours to watch their NFT being performed to 10,000 people.

The sculpture will be kept in Art Angels’ state of the art, climate-controlled vault in Miami where it will remain in mint condition for future trades — or shipped to the winners when they choose to redeem it.

LSR/CITY:The Metaverse is priced at $250,000. Are you confident that you’ve got a diehard fan who’s prepared to part with that kind of money?
I think there may be one there. I do know that a lot of people who are into my music are big into crypto and a lot of people in crypto made kind of insane money in the early days. Is there one person that’s going to spend a quarter of million dollars on a bonkers laser sculpture? Not necessarily, no. But I also know that when you are launching an NFT product in a busy world when everyone’s shouting for attention, you want to have something that people can talk about.

How did you arrive at the quarter-of-a-million-dollars price tag?
It came from a conversation about how much it would cost us to do it, which was kind of well into the six figures anyway. And we thought, typically, the markup on luxury artwork when it’s being sold directly from the artist is probably about 60 or 70%. Even if someone buys the sculpture, it certainly doesn’t make up for what we would have lost in a pandemic year by a long way.

Why not do a Don Diablo and actually record your live set for an NFT?
I wanted the collection to be something people hadn’t seen before. If it was me performing live with lasers, people might have thought ‘well we can get that on YouTube’. It’d be pretty cool if you were able to buy your own exclusive set by an artist you really loved and then you know that not only are you the only person that’s got it though…

You started creating this collection months before the current NFT boom. Was that sheer luck or crystal-ball gazing?
We’ve lucked out a little bit with the timing. Crypto always comes in waves and you have times when everybody’s talking about it, then you have times when things go a little bit quiet. I spoke to my team and made sure everyone knew that there was a possibility we may do this and nobody’s really interested but I feel like we’ve landed in quite a good place.

Why do you think NFTs are appealing to music fans now?
Music fans are collectors, we have that DNA. I remember when I’d collect vinyl and I loved getting the limited editions and the overseas imports and the special vinyl because it had some different artwork. Sometimes I would pay a vastly inflated amount of money because I wanted some particular collectable. And I just think that’s something inbuilt in music fans but in this age of streaming, the places where we can get music, like Spotify and Apple Music, don’t really allow us to do that.

What kind of opportunities does the NFT market present to artists?
The current music industry is pretty far away from a free market where each artist could sell their art however they wanted – be it a subscription model or limited editions. So, I think right now, we’ve all been forced into this model because there are basically two monopolies that control the whole market.

Artists are getting excited about being able to control the economics of how they sell their work. With streaming platforms, there’s only really one way to make money: it’s mass. It’s just getting millions and millions of listeners – that is how artists make money because you get paid a very small price per stream. So the only way you can win big, or at least the only way you can make more than minimum wage and leave your job to pursue music, is by accumulating millions and millions of listeners.

But there’s room for artists who don’t have millions of listeners but who have tens of thousands of listeners that really like them – small amounts of diehards that support them and buy their merch and come to gigs and help them achieve multi-decade careers. So, in some ways, it’s allowing those kinds of models to exist and I just don’t think they have so far.

Do you think artists’ enthusiasm about the NFT model has anything to do with the absence of touring and a fundamental revenue stream?
Yes. I was definitely one of those artists that relied heavily on touring for income and I was like ‘oh shit, that’s like 90% of income gone’. So we’ve all had to be pretty proactive in thinking about new income streams and it has matched up with kind of a boom period in crypto. But I would say the biggest thing for a lot of artists is the realisation that touring can’t necessarily be relied on in the way it could in the past. So there’s been a need to go and find new income streams.

What’s the future of music-related NFTs?
I think what you’re probably going to see over the next year or two is lots of experimentation. So Don Diablo was selling for concert. Other people will do things like selling songs that change slightly every time they’re transferred. If you’ve been releasing NFTs for a while you could release something but only the top 10% of collectors can have them.

Gareth Emery’s LSR/CITY collection drops on Nifty Gateway today (15 April) here.


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